I plan to read and write more starting this summer. I also plan to not let that mean I read Facebook and Twitter posts and write hashtags. That doesn’t count. I will admit to being a great fan of Instagram. I like pictures. And usually, we tend not to post such controversial things on Instagram. Unless you hate SELFIES!!! Anyway, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed today while eating a chicken pot pie and listening to Curtis Mayfield on the record player. Thats when I came across a post about this guy right here:
The post was about taking this flag down. The author of the post went on to discuss how he worried about the racist thoughts of the person who is wearing or showing this design. That this flag always stands for the oppression of African Americans in the south in the 1800s and the racism that still reigns supreme and the fact that the south created a violent atmosphere by their unwillingness to abolish their primary source of income. Now he says in his post that anyone who argues for this flag ends up in rants on personal feelings that are all over the place and primarily shows their lack of historic knowledge.
I never like to comment on posts I don’t like. First of all, its a waste of my time. Second…there is NOTHING worse than a comment fight. Its so stupid. I have been known to post my own post with the other side and leave it up to chance that the person in question will even see it. But this needs more of my words than Instagram will take. So I’m going to blog about it. Now please stay with me. The first thing I’m going to say is this: I wish this country had a dollar for every time I said “I love black people”. The national debt would be paid off in a hot minute! Look at all the things African Americans have contributed to this country! Dr. Charles Drew created the process of separating blood plasma for transfusions. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1939 Olympics. Harriet Tubman fought for the right of every person to have the rights of every person. And Louis Armstrong…well he gave us Louis Armstrong!!! Now, lets take a minute to get a visual on who is saying these words.
I am one of the whitest people in the world, bless my heart. I have the blue eyes, my dog has the blonde hair, and we can’t help ourselves! (I even have a selfie stick…) But lets get into the purpose of this post.
I want to be very careful not to show historical ignorance. I want to be sure that I’m not ranting (I think I already did on the vital advancements of African Americans…but you know what I mean). But I want to tell you what I think of when I see this.
I think of sweet tea. I mean so sweet you can feel it sliding down your throat. I think of biscuits and gravy. Mama’s biscuits and gravy. I think of summer time down by the creek and winter time buying all the milk, bread, and eggs I can carry. I think of pickup trucks. I think of mini vans. I think of football and baseball. I think of barns and shacks and over yonder and up on the mountain. This flag reminds me of driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway and seeing nothing but mountains for miles. It reminds me of driving down the coastline and seeing nothing…for miles. It reminds me of things. But mostly it reminds me of people.
It reminds me of Paul Kermit Lowe. Second generation saw miller. North Carolina born and bred. WWII veteran. Survived the Battle of the Bulge thanks to some frost bite and a wound. Recipient of the purple heart. Always had an ink pen in the shirt pocket of his flannel shirt. Always sat in that chair. Loved Fords and his dog.
Vivian Holloway Lowe. High school english teacher. North Carolina born and bred. WWII veteran. Raised by her older sister. Dedicated leader of her church. Loved to watch “M*A*S*H 4077th”.
John Livingston Norman. Postal worker. Police officer. WWII veteran. Man of God. Father of six. Loved fishing and driving like a maniac.
Beulah Flynn Norman. Seamstress. Stay at home mom of six. Crazy lady. Woman of God. Loved taking it slow and showing love to everyone.
All four of these Southerners have passed away. They are survived by me. They are my grandparents. But they aren’t the only reason you’ll see me smile when I look at this flag.
I think of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. I also think of Ray Charles, Darius Rucker, and Ella Fitzgerald. I think of Ava Garnder, Andy Griffith, and Kathy Bates. I also think of Morgan Freeman, Octavia Spencer, and Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen. I think of O. Henry and Maya Angelou.
This flag doesn’t say: “Hi, it’s 1862 and you’re mad at people who are different than you for no reason at all.” This flag says: “Well hello! You just crossed the Mason Dixon line. We’re glad to see ya’. Did ya’ eat yet? Would you like some tea? Can ya’ spend the night? Well alrighty then!” And if I can have a second to cross over into the truly controversial, by saying that you are afraid of the racist thoughts had by anyone who shows this flag…aren’t you being just as bad? I have one shirt with this flag on it. I own it because it has a dog. The dog is an outline, filled in halfway with this flag, and have with the North Carolina state flag. Those are my roots. And I like dogs. So I bought the shirt. If you see that and are scared of me for it…you’re already more racist than I am. Cause I’m not racist! And also, I discovered in doing some research, to make myself informed before I posted this, that isn’t even the actual confederate state’s flag. It is the battle flag of Virginia. One more historical correction from the post I read earlier: the southern states seceded because they didn’t want the northern states imposing laws on them.
Now before someone shows up at my house to beat me up…I accept and acknowledge the following things:
1. The main law they were opposing was the abolition of slavery.
2. I am probably one of the few people who wear this symbol and think of the diverse things I think of.
3. A lot of the people who wear it are racist.
4. People are still racist.
That being said, one of the worst things in the world is to be so against what someone else is against that you become as bad as they are. Should this flag be flown at southern government buildings (especially since it belongs to Virginia)? No. It has nothing to do with our national government. Should it be flown at historical museums? Sure. Especially in Virginia. It is historical. Should people stop putting it on shirts, trucks, and front lawns? This country provides the freedom for you to do that. Should people just get over it and not make such a big deal about a flag? That same freedom applies to the freedom of your neighbors to not be afraid when they see that symbol. Everybody’s right and nobody’s right all at the same time. To think taking down this flag would stop racism is crazy. It would probably make it worse if we’re going to be honest.
So the quick fix is this: if you can’t change them…change you. Don’t see southern oppression…see African American heroism.
See Rosa Parks shake her head.
See Martin Luther King Jr. linking arms.
See Harriet Tubman lead the way.
See Louis Armstrong pick up his trumpet.
See Thurgood Marshall put on his robe.
See how far we’ve come.
I hope I wasn’t inconsistent. I hope I wasn’t ranting. And I hope I wasn’t ignorant. This post goes out with love to all God’s people. Even the ones who don’t want it.
From a little white girl, rooted deep, in the gorgeous south.